Resolution Reached Over Belfast´s Holy Cross School

Harassed Girls Are "Heroes," Priest Says

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, NOV. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The girls of Holy Cross Primary School hope to return to their classrooms on Monday in greater calm, following months of harassment by Protestant residents.



A resolution to the 12-week-long dispute at the school in north Belfast was reached Friday night, after Protestant residents met to consider proposals from the First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan of the Ulster government, the Irish Times reported Saturday.

On Sept. 5, a homemade bomb thrown by pro-British Loyalists exploded near the Catholic school, wounding a policeman and causing terror among the girls and their parents.

On the same day that pupils at the school took an examination, the First and Deputy First Ministers sent an open letter to parents at the school, to Protestant residents of Glenbryn, and to local politicians.

Details of the letter from Trimble and Durkan were put to a meeting of Glenbryn residents Friday night.

The residents are believed to have asked for a number of measures in return for ending their protest. These include better traffic control outside the school and increased police patrols.

Workers began constructing a turnaround inside the school grounds on Saturday to help reduce road traffic and prevent clashes.

Meanwhile, a rally in support of the Holy Cross pupils in Belfast city center on Saturday night drew a crowd of up about 500.

Traffic was stopped for a half-hour as a number of speakers took the stage.

One parent, Linda Bowes, said it would be wrong to reward the residents in an attempt to resolve the situation. "It must be asked of our political leaders what precedent they are setting," she said.

Father Aidan Troy, chairman of the school´s board of governors, described the pupils of Holy Cross as "220 heroes" and said he had never seen the likes of the parents´ "dignity and tremendous honor."

He added: "I think we´re near an end to the nightmare and I just hope and just pray that the next time we meet will be in an enormous rally of celebration."